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Summer Bypass 2022

On May 1st, my hiking buddy and I decided to walk up the front end of the Multi-use Trail in order to explore the Summer Bypass Trail. At the entrance, I took the opportunity to purchase my annual car pass. Since I was a frequent visitor to our local state park, I always felt that the park system was probably losing money on my annual purchase, but I hoped the fee went towards maintaining the park, which to me was a very good thing indeed.

After navigating that steep angle of the road from the entrance booth to the trail head, we made our usual stop at the Megunticook trailhead to rest for a minute. Even during this short distance, there was enough going on alongside the road to slow down our pace. Solomon seals, Canada Mayflowers and Bellworts were cropping up everywhere!

From the Megunticook trail, we continued our walk up towards the one-mile marker. In another ¼ mile we reached the Summer Bypass Trail which veered off to the left. The path curved back and forth uphill for a bit, with a few flat areas in between.

 We did not find the trail too difficult but it was not one of the popular ones, so some areas were a little close and there were no planks or bridges across waterways. There were 2 streams where we had to determine which stones to step on in order to cross. Another area, near the end of the Bypass was muddy, so we had to figure out some creative navigation there, as well.

Not far from the first stream, I was distracted by some white spores growing on some rock moss. We knelt down to study it up close, and of course to get some pictures. Here is where I discovered that as we get older it becomes so much harder to get up from a kneeling position. Oh, the joys of growing old!

After crossing the second stream, my friend was distracted by a beautiful, large quartz rock with a blanket of moss over the rock. She lifted the moss and ran her hand over the rock to study it more closely. This was not her best moment, for when we turned back to the trail, she discovered she was bleeding at the base of her thumb. Normally, she is the one to carry the first aid kit in her backpack, but for whatever the reason, she had decided to leave her pack at home that day. The best I could offer her was a clean tissue. With her thumb wrapped up, we continued on.

Not long after that incident, we had to navigate that muddy section mentioned above. The interesting thing here, was that we could see the Multi-Use Road straight down towards our right, but the trail headed deeper into the mud towards our left. Not sure why, but it looked like a straight walk would have been drier.

Once on the Multi-use Trail, we headed back down towards the entrance. Along the way we discovered several patches of yellow and white Violets, as well as the small beginnings of Blue-bead Lilies and Hobblebush.  May was certainly a great time for hiking and wildflower discoveries.

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Mission Accomplished

March 26th was a beautiful spring day. It was the type of day where you had to forget whatever chores needed to be done and head outside. Putting aside our responsibilities, my husband and I donned spring jackets and headed to the front end of the Camden Hills State Park in order to stroll up the Multi-use Trail.

The Multi-use Trail at this end of the park was difficult for me. We made our usual stops at the Megunticook trailhead, the water tower and again at a spot where a waterfall is located so that I could catch my breath. Once we reached the first mile marker, we opted to continue on to the ski shelter.  Just before the lodge, we encountered small patches of mud in an area that was always in shade. A few weeks before this, we were skirting ice in that same location.

The shelter is located just a few yards from the second mile marker and just opposite the Slope Trail. As we rested a bit we studied that path, which was the only route I had not tried yet in my attempt to summit Megunticook Mountain. It was not used by most seeking to summit, since it was the longest way of reaching that destination. It required hiking 2 miles up the road before continuing another 1.5 miles up the Slope Trail. But one of us suggested we hike a little bit up the trail, so of course we did.

This route began with a bridge crossing. Not far from the bridge was a pump with a sign warning about the quality of the water. It was an old pump, so my husband decided to see if it still worked. As soon as he started pumping, water poured from the spout. Once we were done playing, we continued up the trail.

Very quickly, the path became muddy, but, since we had already hiked 2 miles, we decided to persist up the mountain. After another ½ mile, this track became a gully where the water had rushed down the trail. Now we had to make our way carefully through the rocky gully and the mud patches. At about this point, we met one other person making their way down the trail who warned us about the mud further up the road. We got through those patches only to have to work our way around some very slippery ice. During this in-between time, when we no longer carried our spikes since there was just not enough ice on the trail, it terrifies me when we do encounter icy conditions.

Finally, we reached a flat area and could actually see the summit cairn through the woods. Of course, the last section was an ice field, but I made it. Mission accomplished! I made the summit of Megunticook Mountain. As proof, my husband took a picture of me at the summit sign. It was the first picture taken of me in a long time that I actually liked.

We reveled in my success for a bit before moving on. Since this route took us over 2 hours, we decided to make our descent by continuing on to Ocean Lookout to the Tablelands, then down Adam’s Lookout to the Megunticook Trail. I don’t think this way was any shorter, maybe just a little easier and less muddy.

We paused at Ocean Lookout to admire the view, then continued down the Tablelands. On my last attempt using the Tablelands Trail, I did not record the steepness of the place where my hiking buddy and I decided to turn around. My husband stood near the top so I could get a comparison of the angle of the trail. There were a bunch of sit and slide sections for me on this path, but better safe than injured. The Adam’s Lookout Trail was fine but then we hit more mud on the Megunticook Trail. 

Once at the Megunticook trailhead, it was a short distance to the parking area. The round-trip hike was about 4 hours, but more important, I had finally summited this peak.

Icy Adventures

The weather was a bit icy and cold the third week of January, keeping me in the house most of the week. At some point, when the sun came out, I decided I had enough of the indoors and went out to take a walk. But first, I had to make it down the driveway. The storm that left snow in the south and 11 inches of snow in Vermont, dumped an inch of rain on the coast of Maine before the temperatures dropped, leaving a quarter of an inch of ice down my driveway. It was smooth, glare ice just perfect for ice skating. I donned my spikes and made it down to the street, which was mostly clear of ice since the roads had been so heavily sanded that walking was no problem. At the road, I removed my spikes and proceeded on my walk.

I had a lovely walk down to Barrett’s Cove and back, but then I returned to the problem of my driveway. I thought I spotted a length of clear pavement that might get me a quarter of the way up the walk, from there I figured if I walked very slowly and precisely I would be able to reach the door. That was not to be.

Once I hit the ice, I began to slide. I perched on a boulder that was next to the driveway in order to put the spikes back on but my first attempt was not successful. As I sat on that rock, I was very surprised to slide off it and found myself sitting in the middle of the drive. Said boulder was covered in a thin layer of ice. Oh well, at least while I was sitting on the ground I could put my spikes on. I made it to the house and shut the door on this unpleasant winter.

After a few days, my husband knowing that I was in a funk from the chore of trying to walk about the neighborhood, persuaded me to take a hike up the Multi-use trail in the Camden Hills State Park. The thermometer indicated that it was 2 degrees. Reluctantly, I dressed to go outside; base layer, dungarees and snow pants on my lower half; base layer, sweater, coat on the upper half and balaclava, head scarf and jacket hood for my head. I was as ready as I would ever be to brave the elements.

At 2 degrees, I was surprised to see that there were actually two other cars in the parking lot. One advantage to the ice layer was that it had filled in all the deep potholes located in this particular parking area. Spikes of course were necessary, both in walking across the parking lot and on the trail. The Multi-use trail was completely covered in ice. Again, the depth of the ice had partially covered up the ruts that were usually created by previous hikers packing down the snow and then freezing.

I was certainly warm enough with all my layers. My face felt frozen a bit and my fingers hurt when I removed the gloves to take a picture, but other than that I was fine. In fact, it was a beautiful day for a walk. As we made our way up the trail, we stopped to admire the sunlight reflecting off the buds waiting for warmer days and the water that froze during its journey down the hills. It reminded me that there is beauty any time of year, and I really needed to force myself outside during these colder months.

Christmas on Bald Rock Mountain

After the excitement of opening our gifts on Christmas Eve, we greeted December 25th ready for another hike before Christmas dinner. My son-in-law wanted to try out his new Nikon mirrorless camera which had been a family gift to him, and I was ready to try out the surprise gift that my husband had purchased for the two of us. What was the surprise joint gift? A 150 to 600 mm lens. It was a good thing he was planning on retiring next summer, for I was going to need someone to carry all this gear for me. In fact, we decided that my husband’s new name would be Sherpa.

We decided to hike up Bald Rock Mountain in the Camden Hills State Park so we could all try out our new toys. Both the Multi-use Trail and the Bald Rock Trail were icy but with micro-spikes we did just fine. Half-way up the Multi-use Trail we found the most perfect frost heave crystals I have ever seen. Now these were picture worthy! I whipped my camera out of my coat pocket and went into action, taking a few photos while my Sherpa waited for us to continue on our journey.

Once on the Bald Rock Trail, the older members of our group slowed down a bit due to the steepness of the trail. I have found that as a result of this slower pace, I see things I would not normally notice. For example, during one of our stops, I noticed a rock with a leaf placed in such a way that it looked like a person’s face with his tongue sticking out. Probably annoyed that there were actually people trespassing on his terrain. I don’t know if the leaf was placed there deliberately or fell there by chance, but it was photo worthy.

I stopped again at the top of the stone steps to catch my breath. While resting for a bit, I noticed a beautiful fungus on a fallen tree. I switched to my macro lens and thought I snapped at least one decent photo. Unfortunately, once I uploaded them to my computer, none of them were that great. Good thing we no longer have to pay for film, or this would be an expensive hobby.

Half-way up the Bald Rock Trail it started to snow. With the day being as cold as it was, the individual flakes stayed a while on my coat. They lingered long enough for me to study the individual shapes but not long enough to try and photograph them, so we continued our upward journey.

When we reached the summit of Bald Rock, my Sherpa put down all the gear and we began the process of setting up the new lens on my camera. It was still snowing, and we were not sure if we would be able to capture anything useful, but it was worth playing with it. I got some nice, clear images of pinecones at the top of one of the trees. My husband got an impressive shot of the Islesboro ferry docked on the island across the bay. We played a little bit longer before making the journey back home.

A few days after Christmas, we took the new lens to Barrett’s Cove and snapped a few pictures of the Maiden Cliff cross. I then turned my lens towards the ice formation on the top of the rock face used by local rock climbers. On this, I could see the true power of my new lens and wondered what other wonderful things I would find in the near future.

Christmas Eve hike 2021

Although it was cold, December 24th was a beautiful day for a hike, and so, my husband and I decided to hike up the Carriage Trail to Mount Battie with our daughter and son-in-law. There were only a few cars parked near the trailhead, which meant we did not see anyone else enjoying some time in nature.

Most of the trail was pretty icy. I assumed that those conditions were keeping more timid people indoors. It was also Christmas Eve, and I am sure that many were scurrying around finishing up their holiday preparations. With our holiday plans in place, we had plenty of time for some outdoor adventures before the festivities began, and, equipped with micros-pikes we were well prepared for the ice. Still, there were places along the trail where I felt the need to step with extreme care.  

Not far from the trailhead, I had to stop and admire some interesting ice formations in the frozen puddles, before continuing our upward journey. Fortunately, my slow pace did not hold anybody up too much, since my daughter also stopped from time to time to take some pictures with her phone. 

At the trail split, we veered right onto the Carriage Road Trail towards Mount Battie. Not far after our course correction, my daughter and I both stopped to study some interesting frost heave formations. Frost heave was always difficult to capture in a photo. Since it occurs when the moisture in the ground pushed up through the frozen dirt, they always appear dirty. These looked better than most.

As we continued our trek through the woods, we eventually saw the auto road leading up to the Mount Battie tower. This last bit of trail that would come out at the road consisted of stone ledge, which was entirely encrusted in ice. Thank goodness for spikes. That did not solve the difficulty of some high stepping areas across this ledge, but with some guidance from my husband I was able to safely reach the road. From here, it was a short walk up to the tower.

We wandered around the summit for a few minutes, admiring the town and harbor below us, as well as the Christmas star decorating the tower, before heading home to our Christmas celebration.